DAADS: Drupal Association Ads

nickvidal's picture

The Drupal Association has been working hard to diversify its revenue streams.

I would like to put forth a proposal called DAADS (Drupal Association Ads).

The idea is to take advantage of the blank space in the Drupal installation screen to display community Ads. These are Ads that promote: a) community participation; b) community membership; and c) community events (DrupalCons and DrupalCamps). This proposal would not only increase fundraising for the Drupal Association (as a result of better promotion of Drupal events and membership programs), but it would also increase community awareness and participation in all aspects (including software development).

Please note the emphasis on the community. Since Drupal is developed by the community, it would be unfair to place commercial Ads. This would undervalue the community effort to build the software.

Here are 2 screenshots that illustrate the DAADS proposal:

Letting users choose locale beforehand allows the software to display Ads in the appropriate language and for the appropriate country.

Since United States was selected in the first screen, DrupalCon Austin is being promoted here.

The Drupal Association should work with different communities around the world to create and select the most appropriate Ads. For example, the Brazilian Drupal Association can provide Ads in Portuguese (Brazil's official language) and that promote DrupalCamps in Brazil. In exchange, the Brazilian Drupal Association can share revenues with the international Drupal Association. The idea here is to create a world-wide bottom-up fundraising campaign for Drupal. Please see the BUDDI Program for more.

Regarding Drupal distributions, this might be the case where it would be fair to display commercial Ads, giving that companies behind a distribution show how much they have actually invested in creating these distributions. For example, Acquia Ads might be displayed when installing Drupal Commons, or Commerce Guy Ads might be displayed when installing Drupal Commerce. In these cases, if the companies want their Ads displayed when installing a distribution, they should pay a fee to the Drupal Association. The funds raised by these commercial Ads should be used to promote the Drupal community as a whole.

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I hate the term "ads" in this context.

silverwing's picture

Call it "Community Connections" or something like that and I'd be more open to it.

Minor comment on commercial ads

tgeller's picture

An interesting idea overall. I somewhat agree with @silverwing's comment, though.

As a side note, you write:

"Regarding Drupal distributions, this might be the case where it would be fair to display commercial Ads... In these cases, if the companies want their Ads displayed when installing a distribution, they should pay a fee to the Drupal Association."

This would be tricky. A company can put whatever ads they want in their distributions -- that's part of open-source's freedoms. You could create a policy whereby distributions containing ads aren't allowed for download from drupal.org, but who's going to police it? And would that only apply to ads during installation? Some distributions already have "ads" (i.e., the name of the distro's creator) in the footer of every page.

Tom Geller * Oberlin * San Francisco * TomGeller.com
Author/Presenter, Drupal video series at lynda.com
Creator of materials for Drupal-focused companies


jhodgdon's picture

I am about 1000% against this.

A quick story... A long time ago, when I started looking for a CMS to make a bilingual blog, I checked out WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla (among others).

The main reason that I rejected Joomla was because many of the add-ons I downloaded (themes, modules) had ads in them, which to me indicated that either the Joomla community was OK with that, or that they didn't police their downloads. Neither one was acceptable to me.

I think that if we start putting even "community service messages" into Drupal Core or other downloads from drupal.org, it is a slippery slope and we could end up like Joomla was at the time when I first downloaded it and ran away, never to return.

I think rather than adding ads to Drupal Core, we should go the other way and make a policy that has strict guidelines for what is and isn't acceptable as far as ads and other messages in drupal.org downloads. As far as "policing" goes, there could be a way to report violations of the policy -- all the code is in a Git repo so it is not so difficult to remove violations if they are identified by the community.

I think we have (or at least

greggles's picture

I think we have (or at least had) documented a policy regarding ads in downloads. Some of that came from https://drupal.org/node/847944

I remember a separate discussion and handbook page that discussed the use of "built on DistributionX" in the footers of a site that suggested it should be easy to remove (e.g. a block or a theme function rather than being hardcoded somewhere that required patching to remove it).

Point is: we have some docs on this and a history of decisions that make it clear that end users must be kept in mind and any features added that don't respect end users may end up costing the committer their commit capability.

Hi Jennifer, Perhaps the

nickvidal's picture

Hi Jennifer,

Perhaps the original meaning was lost in translation. I was not aware that the word Ads had such a bad connotation.

By Ads, or Community Ads, what I meant was the advertisement (or promotion) of an idea or an initiative: perhaps a Drupal event (such as a DrupalCamp or DrupalCon), or a practice (such as contributions of code or documentation), or a donation (such as a membership program).

Would an "Ad" (or banner, if you prefer) displayed at the installation of Drupal educating users ways to contribute with code or documentation be so offensive as to be banned? Or is it in fact a moral responsibility for us, the Drupal Community, to educate our users about why it's important to contribute back?

Kind regards,

What's the goal?

Crell's picture

What's the goal here? Given that you're talking about community events, not paid marketing, there's no revenue for the DA here. I agree with jhodgdon that we should never, ever have commercial advertising in the default install, no matter how much we make off of it. (I fully support more tasteful ads on Drupal.org to increase revenue, but not in the code itself.)

Is it to increase community awareness? Then we don't need in-installer advertising. We just need a generic pointer back to some Drupal.org landing page talking about upcoming events.

Maybe, maybe I could see an "upcoming events" block that ships with core in a disableable module, and pulls data from Drupal.org. That could actually be an interesting tech demo. But even that is pushing it, frankly, since for the 99.9% of the Drupal using world that doesn't have a Drupal.org account they don't care about the community, nor do they need to, nor do they want to. They just want to build a damned website, not become part of the cult.

So yeah, no, not interested.

"I agree with jhodgdon that

nickvidal's picture

"I agree with jhodgdon that we should never, ever have commercial advertising in the default install"

I guess we all agree on this! :)

"you're talking about community events, not paid marketing, there's no revenue for the DA here"

More awareness of a diverse set of community events = Healthier ecosystem of community events = More opportunities for everyone = Including a healthier ecosystem of sponsors = Better bottom-up fundraising for the Drupal community as whole => Circle back

More awareness of ways to contribute (code or documentation) = Healthier ecosystem = Better bottom-up fundraising for the Drupal community as a whole => Circle back

More awareness of the membership program = More members => Better bottom-up fundraising for the Drupal community as whole => Circle back

"we don't need in-installer advertising. We just need a generic pointer back to some Drupal.org landing page talking about upcoming events"

Generic won't attract much attention.

"99.9% of the Drupal using world that doesn't have a Drupal.org account they don't care about the community, nor do they need to, nor do they want to. They just want to build a damned website, not become part of the cult"

Should we make an effort to educate users about the beauty of open source and the Drupal community in a non-obtrusive way? If the proposal succeeds in attracting just 0.1% of everyone who downloads and installs Drupal, this represents hundreds of new contributors per month. Is it worth it?

"So yeah, no, not interested"


"ads in the footer of every

nickvidal's picture

"ads in the footer of every page"

Or in every comment...

I find it quite ironic to read these comments and below find such exemplary signatures:

Tom Geller * Oberlin * San Francisco * TomGeller.com
Author/Presenter, Drupal video series at lynda.com
Author of white papers for TopNotchThemes, Mediacurrent, Acquia, et al. Builder of Drupal sites and modules, and Drupal tutor - http://poplarware.com
Drupal Core maintainer for documentation

Anyways, the objective here is two-fold: a) to educate users about the Drupal community; and b) to find friendly ways to sustain the Drupal project.

What's your point? I have no

tgeller's picture

What's your point? I have no problem with these sorts of "ads" in the footers of distributions, or in thread comments. There's no conflict here.

The issue is whether to have The Drupal Association officially sanction such ads, and perhaps collect money from them (through a mechanism that's still not clear.) This is what others (but not necessarily me) appear to be categorically against.

Apples and oranges.

Tom Geller * Oberlin * San Francisco * TomGeller.com
Author/Presenter, Drupal video series at lynda.com
Creator of materials for Drupal-focused companies

Great yet scary idea

joelpittet's picture

This idea has a great intent and commend you for coming up with an idea to help recruit involvement in the community. Though I can see where the strife comes from. There are extremes for advertising that most developers try to avoid at all costs (GoDaddy i'm looking at you!).

The intent is obviously not for commercial advertising, though it feels like if that becomes easy to do, someone is likely to exploit it's original purpose. Commerce guys have already put commercial ads in the kickstart distribution, they look great and work well but still give me the hebejebes because of my aversion to advertising.

As a suggestion maybe take this idea and move it to d.o's homepage. Rework the visual hierarchy and messaging to drive people visiting to download to also get involved? There is no DA messaging there, nor CTAs for community involvement.

Hi Joël, Thanks for your

nickvidal's picture

Hi Joël,

Thanks for your comment.

I did mention the Commerce Kickstart briefly in my original post because that's indeed where one of my inspirations for this proposal came from, but I wanted to steer away from this example because I wanted to give focus to the Community Ads in this initial discussion.

But since you've mentioned the distribution, we might as well show what this is all about. Please see the screenshots below:

I'm not sure if the Commerce Guys already have a deal with the Drupal Association and if they are sharing the revenue from this. If they aren't, they certainly should since basically the Drupal infrastructure is being used to serve these Ads (even if only the download of the software and later retrieval of Ads).

So what Tom, Jennifer and Larry fear is already happening. I'm 100% behind setting policies and guidelines for this and I hope we can discuss this as well. This discussion in fact should run very deep because there is a lot ahead of us, specially in this SaaS world.

However, my focus right now was on the Community Ads. These Ads are already displayed throughout drupal.org. Please see this non-obtrusive example from the homepage. I think this is very appropriate because its intent is to benefit the community as a whole, and not just a specific set of companies. I believe that displaying these Community Ads in the Drupal installation will allow us to have a much greater reach, thus helping educate and engage more users with the community. What's wrong with that?

Kind regards,

Hi, Nick. First of all, I

tgeller's picture

Hi, Nick. First of all, I want to echo others' statements that you should be commended for proposing this initiative, even if it ultimately proves unpopular or undoable.

Please stop positioning me as an opponent, though. You write:

"So what Tom, Jennifer and Larry fear is already happening..."

I think there are other flaws in your proposal besides its central concept, which I actually think is worth consideration.

One of those flaws is apparent in this comment, where you write:

"I'm not sure if the Commerce Guys already have a deal with the Drupal Association and if they are sharing the revenue from this. If they aren't, they certainly should since basically the Drupal infrastructure is being used to serve these Ads (even if only the download of the software and later retrieval of Ads)."

Not really. As far as I can see, the ad serving doesn't rely on Drupal Assocation's infrastructure, except to download the (insubstantial) code that calls Commerce Guys' servers. (I haven't looked at the code, so I could be wrong.)

You could argue that a distro creator shouldn't be allowed to distribute on d.o. with any ads attached, regardless of how they're ultimately delivered. As I wrote above, I think that's unworkable. Cheers,

--Tom (with ad signature below ;) )

Tom Geller * Oberlin * San Francisco * TomGeller.com
Author/Presenter, Drupal video series at lynda.com
Creator of materials for Drupal-focused companies

FYI I have opened this issue

redndahead's picture

FYI I have opened this issue into the webmasters queue. https://drupal.org/node/2145437 Spyware or software phoning home was discussed previously, but not advertisements specifically.

Hi Tom, Let me add myself to

nickvidal's picture

Hi Tom,

Let me add myself to this list:

"So what NICK, Tom, Jennifer and Larry fear is already happening..."

Trust me, I also fear these Commercial Ads and in my opinion it should be regulated by the D.A. if it's to be downloaded from drupal.org. Even though the Commerce Kickstart is not serving Ads using the Drupal infrastructure, the Drupal infrastructure is serving this adware.

I wanted to focus on the Community Ads, but oh well! :)


So drupal association will

yukare's picture

So drupal association will use Drupal to get profit? So means anyone writing a patch for Drupal is increasing the profits of DA ?

And just as example from Brazil, where the localize.drupal.org now belongs to a private companny(and as they are from da the people at drupal.org do not cares about it) they will just increase they profit with the work of others as they do now with localize?

And the next step? Maybe in Drupal 9 put a ads block(which you can not remove) on the site for all visitors???

The Drupal Association, as a

nickvidal's picture

The Drupal Association, as a non-profit that represents the whole Drupal Community, is working to generate revenue (not profit) to go towards funding educational/inclusive programs around the world.

One of the reasons that we created the Brazilian Drupal Association was to have a neutral party that could represent us. This helps against having one or a few companies taking control of the community.

Ads is what dashed the idea

Riaan Burger's picture

I wonder how this topic would have gone down if you did not use the words "ads" but replaced it with something like "local community highlights" or "Drupal community links" in the original post.

The moment I saw "ads" I resisted. Then I thought of OS installs that highlight features during install and barring Ubuntu's push into bringing commercial ads to your desktop, it made sense to me and I liked it a bit more.

When I read the discussion around commercial ads in one distro and thought of how the Ubuntu desktop turned nasty, I started leaning towards the no ads anywhere side again. It can just be such an easy and slippery slope. See there, how they are now ads, should have really been called something else ;-)

We've also got commercial control over our local community that we're working hard to solve. Our drupal.org.za and drupal.co.za domains here have been bought by a Drupal shop that is digging it's heels in on ownership and have abused them over time for privilege. Even with our DASA now in existence, it took us a right long time to write a constitution that we just hope will keep it independent and serving the community: term limits, initial leaders in the initiative didn't take leading roles etc.

It's both essential and takes effort to make sure we do not entangle commercial elements into areas where the playing field should be open to participation at any level. I'm not sure even local "community associations" will always be able to be non-partisan enough to ensure that. We'll try of course. Perhaps if we could have some governing principals from the DA that local DAs have to adhere to, that will help alleviate any problems in that regard.

Great idea, but I also quite like the idea of making it a block module. Will add to the visual appeal of a new install.

Putting the idea in context of funds for the DA is also a misdirection, I think. Any such funds serve a purpose, if that purpose can be attained directly, so much the better without having to make a financial case for it.

+1 for a block module! ;-)

Good luck and thanks for the idea.

Hi Riaan,Ubuntu's aggressive

nickvidal's picture

Hi Riaan,

Ubuntu's aggressive push for integration with Ubuntu One and Amazon Search and all those proprietary services is exactly what we don't want in the Drupal community.

At least we have to take the hat off to Dries for not pushing Mollom or other Acquia services into Drupal core. Just look at how Akismet and Gravatar is being shipped with Wordpress. I'm also not fond of Joomla and their adware/proprietary extensions.

However, this trend is already happening in the Drupal world (as demonstrated by the examples above). This is the very reason why we need to discuss these policies. To be fair, opening exceptions to distributions like Drupal Commerce is understandable to a certain degree in my opinion. Undeniably displaying payment integration options out-of-the-box is very useful for most users. But I do agree this is a very slippery road and we need to be careful in this regard.

Anyways, I do think it's important to have Community Ads, as long as they promote: a) community participation; b) community membership; and c) community events (DrupalCons and DrupalCamps). These Community Ads are completely different than Commercial Ads.

Kind regards,

I'm appalled

jhodgdon's picture

Those screen shots from Commerce Kickstart are appallingly horribly wrong. If we do not have a policy against doing stuff like that, we should, in my opinion.

As Crell stated above, ads on drupal.org and "sigs" are one thing, but ads in downloads from drupal.org are a completely different matter. I have no problem with the developer of a module having a line or two on their module page saying "This was developed with support by..." or "Donate here to support this module". But if they put an ad in their module or download, especially one that you have to edit their code to remove, that is another matter entirely.

And yes, I do have a small "sig" here on groups.drupal.org promoting what I do for a living, as well as what I do for the Drupal project. That feature is part of groups.drupal.org, and many people do this. That is not the same thing as a commercial ad appearing in Commerce Kickstart.

So... Do we have a policy on this?

And as far as the intended original idea: I really don't think banner promotions of particular Drupal events are all that great of an idea either, for practical reasons. What if we had one in Drupal 6's installer now, for instance? There are not many 6.x versions coming out, and the promotion in there would most likely be outdated for many users. Also, who would decide what went in there? And in what language? Given that Drupal is installed world-wide, I don't see how it could possibly be made all that relevant, unless it was just a link to the g.d.o calendar, which in my opinion is bland enough as to be not a great use of space anyway.

Hi Jennifer,"who would

nickvidal's picture

Hi Jennifer,

"who would decide what went in there?"

Ultimately the Drupal Association, who is the neutral party.

"And in what language?"

Each local community would create the banners in the appropriate language , for the appropriate country, and for the appropriate timeline.

"Given that Drupal is installed world-wide, I don't see how it could possibly be made all that relevant"

The first screen of installation allows the user to choose locale for the appropriate banners to show up.


Please read our terms of service

robertDouglass's picture

Hi jhodgdon, sorry to hear that Commerce Kickstart appalls you! (even more sorry to hear that you apparently have never downloaded and installed the most popular Drupal distribution, but maybe this thread will pique your interest!)

Here are some facts that the screenshots alone cannot convey, that you should know:

  • There is a terms of service that you have to agree to in order to install the software before you can even install it. The TOS clearly states that a content delivery network will show you relevant content to building Drupal Commerce sites, and that no personally identifying information is collected.
  • Those are not pay per view or pay per click ads - it's content that Commerce Guys creates for distribution and the links go back to tutorials, screencasts, and pages on CommerceGuys.com where merchants can find tools they need to succeed.
  • You can turn the entire thing off by disabling one module

Here is the TOS screen: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BaRy1j1CMAAttxU.png:large


nickvidal's picture

Jennifer and all,

If we were to run a pilot with the following installation banner:

If the data showed that this installation banner brought significantly more contributors to the project, would you approve it? If not, why not? Even if strict policies were created to guarantee it wouldn't be abused?


How would you track this?

friendlymachine's picture

Tracking this is one issue, I see. A lot of people aren't going to want this kind of tracking done on their activity and that would be necessary for the idea to have data in support of it.

I agree with those who have said they don't think this is a good idea. The intention is certainly great, but the potential for abuse down the road is enormous. And is installation the point where we want to place a call to action? Would having something like this on the download page on d.o - maybe also contrib project pages - be more appropriate? I think so.

The proposed banner is non-offensive, to be sure, but it takes very little imagination to see how this goes sideways in a hurry.

I'll also agree with Jen that the advertising in Drupal Commerce is disturbing. This is not the direction we should be heading. Yuck.

John Hannah
Friendly Machine

Supporting opinion

rcross's picture

@Nick - great idea!

perhaps surprisingly, I think this is a great way for us to deliver a promotion for encouraging contribution and community involvement. I actually prefer this idea to a donation button on the download page since financial handouts are not the only we want to engage with people.

while commerce kickstart might be in a grey area policy-wise, I think they aren't doing anything nefarious. It might be reasonable to police this area a bit, but I think they have seen an opportunity to promote other ways you can extend and build out your commerce project. Is it an ad? yes. It is improving the user experience? probably more than it is detracting from it.

I like to think in my own way that I frequently defend/protect the Drupal community from opportunistic commercial interests (often by limiting exposure from those people/companies to my local meetup group). However, I don't think there is anything wrong with promoting that Drupal is more than just software - that it is a community of collaboration and contribution. You don't have to contribute everything all the time, or anything even once - we definitely do not make it a requirement, but there is some level of desire (and possibly expectation) that you will participate/contribute. If people aren't made aware of the expectation to participate, then we're dooming ourselves to burnout and an unsustainable ecosystem.

@Nick - there might be some additional ways to improve this concept, but please don't be discouraged by the criticism.

Constructive points

rcross's picture

Just to add something more constructive to the discussion:

Putting PSA (public service announcement) type "Ads" in the installation screens helps target the right people

  • any professional developer is likely to use the drush command line to do a fresh install, so likely wouldn't see the extra messages anyways.
  • new developers/sitebuilders/etc would most likely be doing the install from the GUI and see the messages.
  • End users of the site (and even site admins after a handover) are not going to see these messages (and probably are not our target audience anyways)
  • also, services that host and/or streamline the installation process for you, which aren't usually targeted for people who want to participate in the community (i.e. "i just want to build a website") wouldn't see these messages either. Though hopefully people like that might graduate to installing a site locally or something and would then see them (at a point where they might be more likely to be able/interested in participating)

Compared to the donation buttons on d.o/project/drupal download page:

  • professional developers are likely to visit the drupal page frequently for issue queue work and potentially distracted/discouraged by an unsightly financial ask multiple times a day. However, for downloads they are likely to do that from the command line (drush or git directly)
  • new developers/sitebuilders/etc would only see a financial contribution request during a download - when they haven't even received the software or evaluated it yet. Once its on their computer, any donation buttons are far from memory - way behind getting their mysql configured or getting the correct php verion required.
  • End users of the site are unlikely to see this, unless someone tells them Drupal is being used. However, site owners/admins might see the download page when they are evaluating if Drupal is the right software for their project and could get the wrong impression from a donation button. "does this mean the developer works for Drupal Co?" "Does this mean the developer is just a hobbyist asking donations?" "This must not be a serious software if it runs on donations" (yes, I'm aware all of this are kind of ridiculous impressions but I've seen these and worse from unsavvy clients)

Hi Ryan, Thanks for your

nickvidal's picture

Hi Ryan,

Thanks for your encouraging words!

Great analysis on the installation screen vs download page.

I would add the following: the download page is already cluttered with information, while the installation screen is a blank space. The download page should make it easy for users to find the download link as quickly as possible, while the installation screen is currently just a boring page that users have to wait for. Why not entertain/educate users during this "boring" period? I'm sure we can come up with some creative banners showing how fun it's to contribute back to the community. Depending on how entertaining it becomes, I might go back to installing things manually! :)

Kind regards,

Gittip, Community Building & Education

mgifford's picture

I do think that this space could be used effectively for something by DA. Possibly even links to contributors on Gittip - https://www.gittip.com/for/drupal/

It could even be lists of folks who are giving back to Drupal https://drupal.org/drupalgive

Could even be highlighting members of the community in a series of ads that aren't there to raise $$ directly for the DA, but rather to educate those installing Drupal to the importance of the community and ways to get involved. Highlighting some of the folks who have contributed to Drupal 8 and the importance of the individuals and organizations that made this a possibility would be good.

It's a bit of an under-utilized space at the moment. I think that there are advantages for using that at least for an educational space to highlight messages to people downloading and installing the software for the first time.

Noticable effect?

mark.labrecque's picture

While I do really like the clean look of the install screen now, I could see the advantage of promotional content placed there, if it focused on community building endeavours.

My one question would be would it worth the trade-off? Or more specifically, would the promotional material actually have an effect on developer involement, either in core development or at conferences? Instinctually, I would think that it would not have a large impact. The connotations with ads (even if they are not product promotion) is that they are commercial in nature, which could dillute the Drupal brand.

I think I would need more evidence to be convinced that this was a good way to go.

UX consequences

brunodbo's picture

Aside from the 'ads in drupal core??' reaction, I also wonder about the UX consequences.

I could see new Drupal users getting very confused when seeing logos and other promotional messages while installing Drupal for the first time. There are already so many things to worry about when starting out ...

[Need help with installation?

nickvidal's picture

[Need help with installation? Find a local user group near you]

Imagine how many users simply give up on Drupal because they don't know there is a community behind it that can help them out...

Most newbies understand free software (as in gratis), but they don't quite grasp the open community concept.

"There are already so many things to worry about when starting out ..."

Most think they will have to figure it out on their own. They are not even aware that there are forums, meetups, camps, etc. Once they learn how to get help, they understand the beauty of it, and start contributing back, teaching others.

Come for software, stay for the community - This is what this proposal is all about.

Community Ads distro

develCuy's picture

Let's create a distro and see what happens :)

[develCuy](http://steemit.com/@develcuy) on steemit

I would like to share my

robertDouglass's picture

I would like to share my earlier response to a similar issue that questioned the need for content delivery in Commerce Kickstart (https://drupal.org/node/2034903):

The decision to include the content delivery network in the Kickstart distribution was one that Commerce Guys made very carefully, including even having an all-company meeting and getting feedback from many people outside of Commerce Guys.

There are a couple of problems we're trying to solve by including the content delivery network.

We want to be able to communicate with developers and merchants using the distribution about new things that come along after they've downloaded and installed Kickstart. For example, the newest version of the PayPal module - included in Kickstart - has some significant improvements and new features. It's good if we can tell people about these things when they're available.
We want to be able to provide the latest documentation, learning videos, and Module Tuesday blog posts at the right time and at the right place inside of Kickstart. For example you'll notice that we promote the online documentation for shipping configuration on the shipping screen inside of Kickstart.
We want to learn more about how people use Kickstart so that we can solve the actual problems and needs that developers and merchants actually have. The content delivery network is a good way for us to do this because we see aggregate numbers about what pages are the most visited inside of Kickstart, as well as the content topics that people are most interested in.
In deciding how to address these goals we wanted to make sure that we avoided two possible pitfalls that we were pretty sure would anger our community. We wanted to avoid collecting personally identifying or private information, and we wanted to avoid turning Kickstart into a billboard that distracted from the functional aspect of the software. We also wanted to be very forthright about the whole idea and make it clear what we're doing and why. Hopefully, between the carefully designed tips and the placement of the content, as well as the Privacy Policy, and my blog post series on Sustainable Drupal Distributions, we achieved as many of our goals as possible.

If you think we're still missing our mark, just turn off the Commerce Backoffice Content module and the whole thing goes away.

I'm happy to answer any questions or hear any feedback you have about our decisions, either here, or in private mail: robert@commerceguys.com

As a long time contributor and community member, including having been part of the Drupal Association as well as several of the more prominent Drupal companies, I feel it is very important that we find the right balance between altruism, volunteerism, and commercialism. It is the only way that we will thrive as a project in the long run. The ability to be commercially successful with Drupal is part of why Drupal has grown so big. Doing this right includes not making Drupal.org a poisonous place for commercial activity, and it certainly means not starting a witch hunt against the most popular Drupal distribution aside from core. I would like to offer that with the clear terms of service on the installation screen, the careful attention to showing only relevant content, collecting no data beyond aggregates (how many people saw this content? how many people clicked this content?), Commerce Guys with Commerce Kickstart have set a high standard for balancing commercialism with open source. I'd like to believe that Kickstart is actually the model that people should be studying as a great way of doing things.

On the other hand, you can try to ban such activity, or tax such activity, and see who builds the next distro of the quality and caliber of Commerce Kickstart. Don't hold your breath.

Hi Robert, Thank you for your

nickvidal's picture

Hi Robert,

Thank you for your answer.

I've just read your blog post series on Sustainable Drupal Distributions.

I wonder if you would be willing to share with us some data from the Commerce Kickstart distribution, such as click rates per download from the various add-ons.

Based on this initial data, do you believe that the user engagement that the Commerce Kickstart promotes for the Commerce Guys and its partners would work well for the Drupal community? Do you think it's valid to have educational community "Ads" in the default Drupal download to help users learn more about the software and engage more with the community?

Given that the Commerce Kickstart uses the Drupal infrastructure and builds on top of the community effort, do you think it would be fair for the Commerce Guys (and any other company who offers a commercial distribution from drupal.org) to pay a "tax" to the Drupal Association so that this revenue can help it build a better infrastructure and build a stronger community, thus creating a synergistic relationship that benefits all? The Drupal Association has bold plans to work on the infrastructure in the coming years, and I'm sure this revenue will be very welcomed.

Kind regards,

Hi Nick, Please understand

robertDouglass's picture

Hi Nick,

Please understand that when you reference the "Drupal Community", you most certainly include the companies, such as Commerce Guys, who invest collectively millions of dollars in creating software that is then given away for free with open source licensing. In the creation of Commerce Kickstart, as well as Acquia Commons, and Open Atrium, and other distributions, many many new modules were created, many core patches were submitted, and the overall software ecosystem for Drupal was radically improved. Is that not enough of a contribution already? Why do you feel the need to tax these distributions further? Do you feel that the creators of these distributions have unpaid debts? And, to whom?

The data collected by the Google DFP inside of Commerce Kickstart answers many questions that are of vital interest to a company attempting to create a cutting edge eCommerce platform. For example, I can tell you that Drupal Commerce merchants visit the order management page 6x more often than the tax settings page. Or that Payment Methods receive only marginally more interest than Shipping Methods. That's the type of data we're collecting.

I think that "ads" in the core Drupal download would fail to help anyone. The audience is too broad. Who would administer them? What purpose are they meant to achieve? With Drupal Commerce we have a completely different case: commercial merchants engaging with vital, required, commercial vendors of services such as payment, shipping, tax calculation, cart abandonment, and customer service. If merchants don't get access to those services, they don't launch eCommerce shops. For Commerce Kickstart it makes perfect sense to inform merchants about the services recommended by Commerce Guys. I just don't see as clear a case for doing something similar for Drupal core, so I can't say I'd pursue the idea.

The Drupal Association will certainly find well measured methods to generate revenue to support infrastructure advancement. It's important that they succeed in doing this. I don't think demanding payment from the software providers is a good solution, though. If you start demanding and enforcing that anybody share any part of their Drupal-generated revenue with the Drupal Association, you'll simply alienate everybody all at once. I can't see that as a good solution.

There need to be guidelines that protect the software end-user from malicious and nefarious abuse of the Drupal.org infrastructure. Software that poses a security or privacy risk should be removed. But be very very careful about trying to forbid commercial activity. You'll end up with a situation where you're banning modules and distributions from Drupal.org just because their main goal is commercially oriented. But that would already exclude hundreds of modules and distributions. Do you want to ask Salesforce to pay to have the Salesforce module on Drupal.org? How about Mailchimp? Are you ready to call them and say "your module advertises the Mailchimp service, pay us!" ?

There is no conflict between open source software and commercial activity. The GPL even references selling code - that should make it clear enough.

So - TL;DR - I don't think an ad network for Drupal core is a good idea. I don't think hunting down Commerce Kickstart or any other distribution and demanding a tax is a good idea. We have means, and will find new ways, to generate revenue for the Drupal Association, ways that won't provide a disincentive for software vendors to participate in Drupal to begin with.

Hi Robert,I'm all for

nickvidal's picture

Hi Robert,

I'm all for finding the right balance between altruism, volunteerism, and commercialism. We are on the same page here, so there is no need get on the defensive, making references to "witch hunt", "forbid commercial activity", "making Drupal.org a poisonous place for commercial activity", "alienate everybody", "unpaid debts", "demanding a tax" and "hunting down". I certainly did not say anything in this regard. Much the contrary, my initial idea was to explore ways we could help the Drupal community, and that of course includes companies who invest collectively millions of dollars.

Well, that being said, I feel pretty lousy now. Because I was hoping to get some support for the Community "Ads" and I failed to do so even from the guys who are running Commercial Ads. If it weren't for Ryan's support, I guess I would disappear from Drupal for a few weeks so people would forget this. But since Ryan has given me hope, I'll continue... :)

You said: "I think that 'ads' in the core Drupal download would fail to help anyone. The audience is too broad. Who would administer them? What purpose are they meant to achieve?"

I actually think the Community Ads program would work quite well. The purpose here is to promote: a) community participation; b) community membership; and c) community events (DrupalCons and DrupalCamps). So the purpose is very clear. Who would get to administer them? A neutral party: the Drupal Association and communities around the world. The Drupal Association would oversee the process to make sure that there is the right balance between altruism, volunteerism, and commercialism.

Let's try to imagine, for the purpose of evaluating how the Community Ads would work, if it were applied to the Commerce Kickstart distribution. Let's call it Commerce Community Edition. This exercise will also help identify points where the current distribution could be better. For example, the initial screen would let users choose locale, including Country. Based on this, it would display the content in the correct language (from the translations by the community), and local payment options (from the modules also by the community). Instead of displaying training from one exclusive company, it would display something similar to these pages managed by the Drupal Association, with the appropriate Country and Training Type (Commerce) selected. I would like to highlight that the community here in Latin America have promoted Drupal Commerce quite extensively in the several events we organize and participate. It would be nice if the Commerce Guys worked together with these volunteers to further promote Drupal Commerce in the region, including professional training and customization. This would help build a healthy ecosystem of small businesses everywhere. The market is big enough to support us all, so there is no need to fight!

Please notice that there is nothing in place currently that prohibits someone from launching a Commerce Community Edition in drupal.org itself, and certainly GPL allows this. If they were to create something like this that would promote the community as a whole and generate revenue for the Drupal Association, who would "ban" or "tax" this? Do we want to "make Drupal.org a poisonous place for community promotion?", to "alienate the community?", or to "hunt down community lovers?". How can we justify this if Drupal is created by millions of volunteers who invest collectively trillions of hours?

Please don't read the last paragraph as a threat, because it's not. I'm just using the same arguments you used before to make a point. But understand this: that it's fundamental to establish a good relationship with the community. Pay it back and pay it forward. Be a role model in how to lead a community while creating sustainable businesses everywhere.

It's interesting that most people in this thread, including core developers, were completely unaware of the decisions made by the Commerce Guys with regards to such a delicate topic. It would have been better handled if they were consulted before, so their reactions in horror to the current situation is understandable. The best you can do now is to keep the dialogue open with the community, to reach out to Drupal Association, and to work towards a balanced solution. This is clearly a situation where everybody can win, so please choose the most noble path.

Thank you for your consideration.

Kind regards,

The purpose here is to

robertDouglass's picture

The purpose here is to promote: a) community participation; b) community membership; and c) community events (DrupalCons and DrupalCamps).

Nick, I can see something like that working pretty well. Don't let me dampen your enthusiasm for that idea.

Overall there is a lot of opportunity for making a tighter connection between a running Drupal site and the activities on Drupal.org. Especially in the context of distributions that have specific stated purposes.

Good luck with developing this program.



nickvidal's picture

I've created a Poll. Whatever the community decides, we should respect that:



dotpex's picture


Attempt a D8 Patch?

mgifford's picture

Has anyone tried to build a patch to add this to Drupal 8?

Opinions on this are going to be mixed. The poll wasn't very conclusive with only 26 folks participating. That being said most were against it.

I do think that we need to start being more active in how we reach out to users on d.o and those who are installing Drupal.

Ads are a pretty emotionally laden term. I do think we do need to encourage new people to participate in our community and indeed join the DA.